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Tis The Season To Stay Warm! Boston Home Heating Tips

Boston winters can bring surprises, including heavy snows and winter storms. Making sure your home is ready for winter before the snow flies is the key to staying comfortable all season long. If you’ve had your furnace or boiler inspected and all is well, here are a few more tips to keep your Boston home heating properly during the winter.

If you have a furnace, change your furnace filters regularly. Most manufacturers recommend changing furnace filters once per month. The furnace filter accumulates dust and other air particles that can reduce the air quality of your home. Changing the furnace filter keeps your home air quality higher, and improves the efficiency of your furnace. You can get reusable filters or paper-based filters. Reusable filters can be washed out and returned to service. Paper filters are used once and discarded.

If your furnace has a belt-driven motor, keep a spare belt handy. Usually, you don’t need special tools or training to replace a broken drive belt. If the belt breaks during the winter, you can quickly replace it and get your furnace back into service without a service call.

For boiler systems, make sure your radiator valves are open and adjusted properly to prevent parts of your home from becoming too hot or too cold. Test the valves to ensure that you can completely open and close them. If a valve is difficult to turn, or just plain stuck, it may need to be replaced.

For boilers, you can also consider installing an outdoor reset control (ORC). This handy little device will help your boiler maintain a comfortable temperature inside your home, and will help you reduce your energy expenditures. An ORC acts like a middleman between your boiler and your thermostat. By keeping track of the outdoor temperature and the indoor temperature, the ORC – not the thermostat – decides whether the boiler should fire up or not. When installed, an ORC can help prevent your boiler system from turning on too frequently and making your home uncomfortably warm.

Boston Standard Plumbing can help you with all of your heating and cooling needs. Contact us at (617)288-2911 and schedule an appointment today!

Getting More (Or Less) Out Of Your Steam Heat Radiators

Steam heat systems are notorious for being hard to control, making rooms either too hot or too cold. Unfortunately, steam heat systems may distribute heat unevenly, making it impossible to adjust the system overall. Are there simple steps you can take to adjust the heat output in each room of your Boston steam-heated home?

Yes! You can adjust the heat output of a radiator by painting it. The type of paint you choose can either increase or decrease the heat output of the radiator by as much as 10%-20%. The paint will have no appreciable effect on the cost of operating the boiler but can make individual rooms more comfortable.

Radiators transfer heat to a room in two ways. First, radiators heat the air above the radiator. This heated air rises and moves into the rest of the room to warm it. This accounts for about 2/3 of the radiator’s heat output. Second, the surface of the radiator radiates heat. Painting the surface of the radiator either increases or decreases the radiator’s ability to radiate heat without changing the radiator’s ability to heat the air above it.

Metallic paints, those that have metal flakes in them, can give the radiator a fresh look of bronze or aluminum. You may be tempted to think that a metallic finish will increase the amount of heat transfer to the surrounding air, but you’d be wrong! Metallic paints reduce the radiator’s ability to radiate heat into the room. If a room in your home is too hot, a coating of metallic paint can help “adjust” the radiator by reducing it’s radiating capabilities.

Colored paints that have no metallic flakes in them have the opposite effect. They increase the radiator’s ability to transfer heat to the room. Painting a radiator with a colored paint will increase the radiator’s ability to radiate heat into the room. The efficiency of a radiator in a room that is chronically cold can be improved with a change of color.

You can also limit the “wasted” heat that is radiated toward a wall by painting the side of the radiator that faces it with a metallic paint, and painting the outward facing portions of the radiator with colored paint. This will increase the amount of heat that is radiated into the room, and decrease the heat that is “wasted” by heating up the wall behind the radiator.

It’s important to note that the last coat of paint on the radiator is the only one that has any effect on the radiator’s heat output. In other words, you can take a previously metallic-painted radiator, put a coat of colored paint on it and increase the radiator’s heating capacity. Likewise, you can decrease a radiator’s heating capacity by covering colored paint with metallic paint, so there’s no need to remove old paint on your radiator.

Finally, if you’re trying to improve the efficiency of your steam heat system, consider insulating the pipes that service each radiator. You may achieve some control by painting these pipes, but a build up of dust can easily undo even the most heroic effort!

Boston Standard Plumbing provides expert maintenance for steam heat systems. We can repair or replace radiators, service pipes, boilers, valves and other system components. Call us at 617-288-2911 for more information on your steam heat system.